“The goal of this exhibit is to educate viewers on human-animal interactions during the Viking Age and how the Norse used their natural landscape and the animals accessible to them to create and support their world.”

— by Megan Specht

Virtual Exhibits

Viking Age Scandinavia is unique in that people had close, daily interactions with animals and Viking Age art and literature reflected on these interactions in everyday life. Animals were so deeply interwoven in Norse society that their symbolic and economic associations were represented across society, often in ways radically different from stereotyped symbolisms today. Below, explore different topics in which animals were represented during the Viking Age.

Religion & Mythology

Figure from Lejre, DK.
Silver with niello inlay.
1.8×2.0×1.3 cm.
(source: Wikimedia)

Luck & Spirituality

Pendant from Gørding, DK. Gold with glass beads. 2.6×1.9 cm. (source: SVJM)

Pendant from Gørding, DK.
Gold with glass beads.
2.6×1.9 cm.
(source: SVJM)

Evil & Death

Stone from Tjängvide, SE.
Limestone, modern finish.
170×120×30 cm.
(source: Wikimedia)

Sacrifice & Burial

Fregerslev II, DK.
Grave sequence.
(source: Sulas et al.)

Craft & Trade

Tunic from Bjerringhøj, DK.
Modern linen, embroidery.
(source: NMK)

Farm & Field

Aurochs, Himmelev, DK.
Skeleton from bog.
(source: class)


Select References

Bately, Janet. “Text and Translation: The Three Parts of the Known World and the Geography of Europe North of the Danube According to Orosius’ Historiae and Its Old English Version.” In Ohthere’s Voyages: A Late 9th-Century Account of Voyages along the Coasts of Norway and Denmark and Its Cultural Context, edited by Janet Bately and Anton Englert, 40–58. Roskilde: Viking Ship Museum, 2007.

Crawford, Jackson, trans., The Saga of the Volsungs (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2017).

Jensen, Bo. “Chronospecificities: Period-Specific Ideas About Animals in Viking Age Scandinavian Culture.” Society and Animals 2 (2013): 208–21. (online)

Poole, Kristopher. “More than Just Meat: Animals in Viking-Age Towns.” In Everyday Life in Viking-Age Towns: Social Approaches to Towns in England and Ireland,  edited by D. M. Hadley and Letty ten Harkel, 144–56. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013. (online)

Star, Bastiaan, Sanne Boessenkool, Agata T. Gondek, Elena A. Nikulina, Anne Karin Hufthammer, Christophe Pampoulie, Halvor Knutsen, Carl André, Heidi M. Nistelberger, Jan Dierking, Christoph Petereit, Dirk Heinrich, Kjetill S. Jakobsen, Nils Chr. Stenseth, Sissel Jentoft, and James H. Barrett. “Ancient DNA Reveals the Arctic Origin of Viking Age Cod from Haithabu, Germany.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 34 (2017): 9152–57. (online)

Sturluson, Snorri. “Gylfaginning.” [The Tricking of Gylfi] In Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes, 7–54. London: J. M. Dent, 1995.

Zori, Davide, Thomas Wake, Jon Erlandson, and Rúnar Leifsson. “Viking Age Foodways at the Hrísbrú Farmstead.” In Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaeological Project, edited by Davide Zori and Jesse Byock, 163–79. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014.

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